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The 2001 Goodguys season finale wrapped up with the Fuel & Gas Finals, held November 3-4 at Famoso Raceway.  It was a weekend filled with upsets, surprising non-qualifiers, unpredictable weather, and many championships decided during the late rounds of eliminations.  In most cases, it was a fitting conclusion to a most controversial year in the nostalgia ranks and a preview of what's to come in 2002.  Before we crank into high gear with the 'silly season', take a tour of the photo highlights from this event captured by Mark Hovsepian and myself.   Enjoy! -Dawn
maggione.jpg (36942 bytes) There were plenty of fresh entries within the A/Gas field and Joe Maggione's '66 Chevelle surprised many with a runner-up finish.  Not surprising was his choice of the heavily favored Renteria Bros. power-plant, as Maggione ran consistent 7.80s during eliminations while running down such favorites as Steve Castelli and Don Chemello, respectively, before losing in the final round to none other than newly crowned champ, Sean Renteria.   Guess they don't provide all the secrets, huh?
Rich Howell ran a personal best 6.268/232.73 during Top Fuel qualifying, but that number was only good for the third spot of the 'B' field.  Howell met Tim Gibson in round one and was sent home early, as Gibson used a 6.243/224.83 to dispose of Howell's 6.310/227.67. howell.jpg (55295 bytes)
ward.jpg (45737 bytes) Dave Ward qualified in the second spot of the Nostalgia 2 field with an 8.606.  Ward was dialed in from that point on, as he used consistent 8.60s during eliminations to claim his first event title of 2001.
Jim Data qualified his '57 Pontiac in the fifth spot of the A/Gas field with a 7.895/178.21.  Data met Sean Renteria in the opening round and despite cutting a .474 light to Renteria's .511, lost the round as his Pontiac fell off pace with an 8.64 to Renteria's winning 7.83. data1.jpg (39088 bytes)
mcgee.jpg (52578 bytes) Rick McGee collected his first Top Fuel 'A' pole position with back-to-back 6.04s during qualifying. McGee ripped off a fine 6.103/225.62 during his first round meeting with Jack 'Sheriff' Harris, ending Harris' chances of winning the season championship.  McGee fell off that pace in the second round, as opponent Bill Dunlap used a motor-collapsing 6.154/233.34 to easily take care of McGee's 6.408/178.92.
Phil Lukens was one of 32 entries vying for a spot in the 16-car Nostalgia Eliminator field.  Lukens had his blown Topolino performing its best numbers (and burnouts) in some time, but the 8.16 he ran during qualifying wasn't enough for the 7.80 bump spot.
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mcdaniel.jpg (39712 bytes) Reigning Top Fuel Champ, Rance McDaniel, assaults the quarter mile in the Champion Speed Shop entry during his first round meeting with Dale Pulde.  McDaniel barely got around Pulde's holeshot induced 6.130/242.71 with a 6.109/236.96.  It was an all important round, as McDaniel went on to claim his second consecutive championship.
Ron O'Haver, who was attempting to qualify in the always tough Nostalgia 1 class, ran an impressive 7.976 in the Chrysler powered 'Panic' altered, but that number was short of the 7.803 bump spot held by Bob Hensel.
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stevewoods.jpg (47342 bytes) Steve Woods secured his fourth consecutive Pro Supercharged crown by winning his third event of the season.  It wasn't a cake-walk though, as Woods came into the event with a one point advantage over Steve Wood, and then stretched that lead by out-qualifying Wood with a pole sitting 7.008/199.77.  Had Wood not had the unfortunate fate of a first round blower explosion, the championship may have gone down to the final round.
Bill Dunlap ended his season on a high note collecting his first win of 2001 in the Mike Fuller-backed "Midnite' entry.  With bracket-like consistency, Dunlap qualified in the seventh spot of the 'A' field with a 6.155/226.75, ran back-to-back 6.15s in rounds one and two, and closed out the final round with a winning and fire-engulfing 6.166/226.92.  While these numbers are impressive, so is the obscene fact that each of these runs came at the expense of a motor swap between each round.  dunlap.jpg (62862 bytes)
gruzenne1.jpg (44249 bytes) Dave Gruzen had a mathematical shot at claiming the Nostaligia 1 championship, as a result of points leader Mike Savage not qualifying and by defeating reigning champ, Scott Christlieb, in round 1.  Gruzen's hopes came to an end in round two though, as he was defeated by eventual runner-up, Larry Dixon.
B/Gas was inundated with new entries at the Fuel & Gas Finals.  Russell Jackson competed in his beautiful '67 Chevy and despite running an 8.932, was unable to break the 8.86 bump spot.
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kuhns.jpg (45637 bytes) Kirk Kuhns qualified his Bob Hansen built entry in the fifth spot of the 'B' field with a 6.512/219.19.  Kuhns disposed of Glenn Hutchison and Tim Gibson, respectively, before falling to eventual winner Bill Dunlap in the final round.
Rich Roberts snagged the bump spot of the Pro Supercharged field with a 7.288/168.41.   Roberts met Ronnie Nunes in the opening round and despite cutting a .424 light to Nunes .489, lost the match-up when his '34 Willys fell off pace to the tune of a 7.37 to Nunes' winning 7.12.
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malde.jpg (59868 bytes) Arnold Birky tuned Mark Malde to a 6.216/231.42 run during qualifying which held for the eighth spot of the Top Fuel 'A' field.  The Birky Bunch entry fell victim to a double-whammy in round one though, as they smoked the tires and watched opponent Lee Jennings Sr. rip off a winning 5.997/233.64!
With so many teams making the jump from B/Gas to A/Gas, one would be led to believe there would be a shortage of competition in the remaining C & B classes.  Not so, as there are an equal amount of entries making the switch all around.  Jess Tyree was a casualty of the over-populated B/Gas class, as his 8.93 was only good for the second alternate spot.
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Gruzen211.jpg (50096 bytes) Dave Gruzen was a busy man during Sunday's eliminations, as he was shuttled between two different cars competing in Nostalgia 1 & 3.  Gruzen's last pass of the day came in the final round of Nostalgia 3 where he earned runner-up honors to secure the season championship by a mere 6 points.
Tommy Schiffilea joins a number of teams who have made a mid-season transition from B to A/Gas.  Maybe he should have waited until next season to make the switch, as his 8.617 left him in the ninth spot of the field, but would have been good enough for the number one slot of the B/Gas field!  Doh!
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muravez.jpg (56742 bytes) It was just one year ago that Bob Muravez finished licensing runs in John & Jeannie Halstead's 'Western Hoist' entry.  Seven events and 26 runs later, Muravez put the team in the winner's circle for the fourth time in 2001.  Muravez qualified in the second spot of the 'B' field with a 6.254/216.24, and rattled off nothing slower than a 6.21 during eliminations to easily claim the event title.
Sean Renteria dominated the A/Gas field to earn his second A/Gas title and ultimately the season points battle over reigning champ, Mark Mahood.  Renteria accomplished the feat by nailing the pole with a 7.676/166.02 and with the unfortunate help of Mahood's unusual DNQ.  Renteria beat Jim Data in the opening round with a 7.83, used a holeshot aided 7.711 to defeat John Overholser's quicker 7.697 in round two, and then tapped  into the family horsepower bag-of-tricks to overcome a nearly tenth and a half holeshot provided by final round opponent, Joe Maggione. renteria176.jpg (53054 bytes)
Maggione cut a .469 light to Renteria's unfashionably late .610, but it was Renteria at the top end squeaking by with a 7.687 win over Maggione's 7.841!  Whew!

 

mendy1.jpg (59196 bytes) Mendy Fry-Harris hikes the front-end up in Ron Johnson's Jr. Fueler during her second round meeting against newly crowned season champ, Bill Wayne.  Unbeknownst to Mendy, who was streaking to the finish line with a winning 7.368, Wayne got severely out of shape at about the 330' mark and eventually tangled with the Famoso guardrail at half-track.  Despite the ominous sounds of the motor RPM pitching wildly behind the clouds of smoke and dust and and witnessing his front wheels ricochet behind
Fry, Wayne survived the incident with only minor bumps and bruises.  His car, which had been sold prior to the event, was a complete write-off.

 

Richard House made the long tow from Hurst, Texas, with his gorgeous '55 Chevy to participate in the B/Gas class.  House qualified fourth with an 8.683 but despite cutting a more than two-tenths holeshot on first round opponent, Scott Smith, slowed to a 9.255 while Smith claimed the round win with an 8.956.
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paul.jpg (49145 bytes) Jim Paul collected his third A/Fuel win of the season, by trumping the likes of Kin Bates, Steve San Paolo and Ron Attebury, respectively.  While Paul was using a consistent string of 6.60 e.t.s, it wasn't enough to retain the A/Fuel crown, as Sean Bellemeur claimed the title by a mere 8 points.
Brad Chafee qualified his healthy '69 Camaro in the sixth spot of the B/Gas field with an 8.748.  Chafee upset Dave Nugent in round one with an 8.67, used another 8.67 to dispose of Scott Smith in round two, and trailered Ken Ratzloff in the final round with an 8.91 to claim his second win of the season. BradChafee138.jpg (58581 bytes)
markwoods.jpg (50173 bytes) Mark Woods qualified well within the A/Fuel field, using a great 6.801/187.03 in Brian Van Dyke's gorgeous 'Flyin' Dutchman' nitro-injected entry.  Despite cutting a nearly two tenths holeshot on first round opponent, Steve San Paolo, Woods' entry drifted right following the launch forcing Woods to click it before crossing the center line. San Paolo streaked by to the win with a 6.762/202.74.

M & H Photography -All text, photos, graphics, artwork and other contributed material within the Combustion Chamber  are copyrighted and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without express written consent.